Trial into Mumbai terrorist attacks ends

Associated Press / April 1, 2010

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MUMBAI — The trial into the 2008 terrorist attacks and the deaths of 166 people during the siege closed yesterday, less than a year after it opened — a speed rare in the Indian judicial system.

The special court that heard the case into the assault — for which India blames the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba — said it would issue a verdict May 3.

On trial are Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani Indian investigators allege is the only surviving gunman from the rampage in India’s financial hub in November 2008. Also on trial are two Indian codefendants accused of helping plot the attacks.

All three are charged with 12 criminal counts, including murder and waging war against India. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

Indian courts are notorious for delays in dispensing justice, with trials often taking years to go to court and moving slowly through the system once there. But this case was made top priority because of the enormity of the assault. The prosecution examined some 610 witnesses since the trial began in April.

Kasab, 21, had told the judge that he wanted to attack India to free the divided region of Kashmir.

During the terrorist attacks, which lasted nearly three days, 10 men armed with assault rifles stormed two hotels, a Jewish center, and the train station. Nine gunmen were killed.